The year 1949 was the last time the Freedom Train rumbled across America carrying our nation's founding documents. It was the last time we saw the number of traffic deaths as low as they were this past year. And 1949 was also the last time Atlantans heard the familiar clang of a streetcar as it rolled through town. The last time, until now.
Yesterday morning, I was proud to stand alongside Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed at the groundbreaking of the new streetcar line in downtown Atlanta. It was truly a special day, made all the more memorable by the very enthusiastic crowd who joined us to kick-off this great project.
Photo courtesy Thomas Wheatley, Creative Loafing Atlanta
This project was awarded the largest of our 2010 TIGER grants and with good reason. The 2.6-mile streetcar line runs right through the core of the city. It will provide much needed public transportation to small businesses, convention centers, and popular destinations like the World of Coca Cola, the Georgia Aquarium and the CNN Center. The line will also be a powerful catalyst for business growth in the areas it serves.
On this, the second day of Black History Month, I am proud to announce that the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site and the historic Auburn Avenue corridor, considered the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement, will also have stops along the route.
This is all part and parcel of the President’s vision of an America built to last. As I said at the groundbreaking, Atlanta is at the forefront of America’s streetcar renaissance. Across the country, there are communities like Atlanta that need the kind of transportation options, economic development, and environmental benefits that modern streetcars offer. And there are men and women ready to roll up their sleeves and get back to work making these projects happen.
I want to thank the people of Atlanta for their tremendous welcome yesterday. And I’d also like to thank Governor Deal and Mayor Reed for putting politics aside to focus on building a strong foundation for a thriving Atlanta. A lot of folks in Washington could learn something from from these two elected officials who have put Atlanta on track toward lasting success. And, if Congress passes the long-term transportation bill President Obama called for in his State of the Union, communities around America can share that success.